BURL BURLINGAME / BBURLINGAME@STARBULLETIN.COM
Forty-four firefighters battled a blaze yesterday at the Risque Book Store and Esquire Theater in Chinatown.
Firefighters take 2 hours
to douse Chinatown fire
The blaze caused part of a ceiling
above an adult theater to collapse
It took firefighters nearly two hours last night before they were able to bring a fire at an adult theater and bookstore in Chinatown under control.
The fire sent black smoke billowing over downtown Honolulu.
During the course of the fire, a portion of the ceiling and second floor collapsed above the Risque Book Store and Esquire Theater at 32 North Hotel St.
No firefighters were in the building when it began to fall into itself, said Fire Capt. Emmit Kane, but firefighters had been inside earlier and had deemed it unsafe to enter.
He said the fire was difficult to get under control because the building's interior was full of winding steps and small rooms.
"It's basically a maze up there," Kane said. "This one was difficult."
When firefighters arrived at 5:49 p.m., black smoke was billowing out of the roof, Kane said.
Forty-four firefighters battled the blaze, which was reported under control at 7:48 p.m.
Because stores in the Chinatown building are close, fire officials also wanted to ensure that the flames had not spread to other businesses.
There were no injuries reported and no one was in either the businesses when the fire erupted, Kane said.
Customers in nearby bars evacuated into the street when they smelled smoke from the blaze.
Sonny Roe was at nearby bar Paradise Lost when the fire broke out.
"I was just sitting there and I started to smell something burning," he said.
Fire officials were investigating the cause of the blaze last night and there was no damage estimate. Police closed roads surrounding the building, leaving patrons at nearby restaurants unable to get back to their parked cars.
Nuuanu Avenue between King and Pauahi streets and Hotel Street between Bethel and Maunakea streets were closed as fire fighters put out the fire.
Kane said he did not see any sprinklers in the building and was not sure the stores had fire alarms.